June 22, 2024 8:44 PM

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New Bill Seeks to Grant Citizenship to More Canadians Born Overseas

A new bill, Bill C-71, has been introduced in the House of Commons to extend Canadian citizenship rights to children born abroad beyond the first generation. 

This legislation, tabled by Immigration Minister Marc Miller on May 23, 2024, aims to amend the Citizenship Act to allow Canadian citizens born abroad to pass their citizenship to their children. It helps address issues faced by those who have lost or never acquired citizenship due to outdated laws.

Currently, the first-generation limit prevents Canadian citizens born abroad from passing citizenship to their children born outside Canada. It does not allow a direct grant of citizenship for children born outside Canada and adopted. 

If passed, Bill C-71 would change this, enabling children of Canadian citizens born abroad to inherit citizenship. The bill also proposes restoring citizenship to individuals affected by previous legislation and extending it to their descendants and anyone born abroad to a Canadian parent in the second or subsequent generations before the bill’s enforcement.

The first-generation limit was introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government in 2009 following the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. Canada spent $94 million to evacuate 15,000 Canadian citizens from Lebanon. This raised concerns about the evacuees’ ties to Canada, leading to the restrictive policy.

A December 2023 Superior Court of Justice ruling found the first-generation limit unconstitutional, violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms due to discrimination based on national origin. 

The proposed legislation requires parents born abroad who have or adopt children outside Canada to have spent at least 1,095 cumulative days in Canada before the child’s birth or adoption to pass on citizenship. 

The government is assessing the ruling’s impact and may request a court extension to allow the bill to pass through the House of Commons without delay.

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